Study Shows Greater Voting Errors With E-Voting

from the more-evidence dept

Whenever we point to problems with e-voting systems, there are always some who respond by pointing out (correctly) that there are problems with the old paper ballot system as well, and the e-voting system must be better. Not so far. Jose Luis Campanello writes in to let us know that a study in France found that when compared to traditional paper ballots e-voting systems showed more errors. There were definitely voting discrepancies in both cases, but it was significantly more noticeable with e-voting systems. The study also found that it wasn’t just an issue of pollworkers being unfamiliar with the e-voting machines that led to so many problems at e-voting stations. That’s because the problems didn’t get better as pollworkers became more familiar with the machines — and there wasn’t a correlation between sites where there were more complaints concerning how to use the machines and the discrepancies. Once again, we’re left wondering why we’ve been so quick to rush into e-voting when there’s so much evidence that it’s neither accurate nor reliable?

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Comments on “Study Shows Greater Voting Errors With E-Voting”

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Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Other countries seem to manage it OK

Countries like India and Australia seem to implement e-voting just fine, with no suggestion of rampant vote-rigging, miscounted votes or any such nonsense. How come the US finds it so difficult? Maybe it’s time to see how those other countries are doing it, and learn from them.

Feedback (profile) says:

So what is the source of the discrepancies?

This is interesting data, but it would be infinitely more useful if the source of the e-voting errors was more thoroughly identified. The study implies that pollworkers aren’t to blame, so what is? We all know that computers are deterministic in their behavior, so does the author of the study chalk the problems up to software bugs? Frankly, the line of reasoning by which the study author concludes that it’s “unlikely that voters’ unfamiliarity with the machines is to blame” seems more than a little thin to me, particularly because it assumes that misuse of the machines is somehow correlated with registered user complaints. Anyone who has worked in the software industry knows that said correlation is shaky at best – some users may not even have been aware that they had not completed voting properly. Admittedly this may indicate usability issues with the e-voting machine interface, but it’s dangerous to draw broad conclusions from this.

And no, I don’t work for or represent an e-voting company.

George Johnston (user link) says:

Was HAVA Originally Called HAVOC?

Cash strapped counties should spend millions of dollars for a system that is used 4 or 5 times before it is obsolete. They never skimp on usability studies to see if the design is misleading. They always commission human factor studies to see if screen size and parallax affect the perceived vote. Unlike boxes of paper the electronically stored bits are readily observed by the unaided human eye.

John Wilson (profile) says:

EVoting in Vancouver

The city of Vancouver has used E-voting for some years now and yes, there are errors.

Understandable when you consider that counsellors are elected at large and there can be a vast array of choices.

There were errors too when the whole thing was hand counted from paper ballots.

Still, what the city does is to check each machine the morning before the vote to ensure that it works correctly and then randomly checks machines at each poll in the city during the vote.

There’s also a paper trail kept in the form of the ballots fed into the machines in case of a recount being needed.

Good thing too because a judicial recount was ordered shortly after the system was implemented with the judge commenting that he didn’t care if the count was done by a machine or a human being he wanted it recounted for a small group of polls where there appeared to be irregularities and that was that.

Sure enough the election night tallies were wrong.



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